2 December 2002 | Vol. 2, No. 4

About American Poetry

More interested in finding than knowing. The symposia throng, led by panels, almost political, mostly American, addressing the question, 'What is American about American poetry?' Attending both sessions separately, one at JFK Center for The Performing Arts, the next a week later, at The Library of Congress. Time-warped opinions of panelists quoting Frost, Dickinson & Stevens. They were against all projects, or series, the poem must be occasional, especially symbolic. Even mentioned Mallarmé. It took someone, an Irishman in the audience, Denis Donoghue, well into day two, to bring up Olson's name. Someone in the audience referred to painters' ability to be abstract, non-referential, so why not poetry? Hell no! Language must stand for something else, must symbolize with metaphor & simile. With dire trepidation I stood up to quote Olson's, 'The trouble with the symbol is, it does not trouble.' The entire panel turned a deaf ear, except a lone silent nod at the end of the table, the quick affirmation from the line of Gogol & Dostoevsky, the hoarse, smoker's nod from Joseph Brodsky.

About the author:

Robert Gibbons is the author of three full-length books of prose poems. New work is online in Istanbul Literature Review and Jacket, and is forthcoming in Ars Interpres (Sweden) and Wheelhouse. He is Poetry and Fiction Editor of Janus Head.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Robert Gibbons at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 2, No. 4, where "About American Poetry" ran on December 2, 2002. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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